After heart surgery, Evy Kuijpers can’t wait for Paris-Roubaix Women

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Earlier this year, Evy Kuijpers found herself recovering from heart surgery at the age of 27. The Dutchwoman, who rides for Human Powered Health, had to sit on the sidelines instead of training hard for the classics she loves. But now Kuijpers is back and ready for her second Paris-Roubaix Women start.

“I had an ablation operation at the end of February,” she said. “I hadn’t had any problems, but they found something and wanted to fix it. If they hadn’t, I might have had a problem in a month, a year… at some point in the future.

Related: Book excerpt: Four warning signs of heart health

An ablation is a procedure used to treat irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias, and it’s not uncommon to come across a cyclist who has had one.

Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers) Diego Ulissi (UAE), Zdeněk Štybar (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), VeloNews podcaster Bobby Julich and our very own Lennard Zinn all underwent cardiac ablation.

Kuijpers is one of the veteran directors of Human Powered Health, whose roster includes a number of young Americans like junior world silver medalist Kaia Schmidt and junior national road champion Makayla MacPherson, both of whom are 18.

But instead of leading the team at full strength for the Classics, Kuijpers had to gradually get back into shape.

Evy Kuijpers raced the very first Paris-Roubaix Women for Liv Racing. This year she is running for Human Powered Health. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

“It’s quite difficult to come back to these races,” Kuijpers said of the spring classics, where she started but did not finish Gent-Wevelgem and Dwars door Vlaanderen. She was 44th in Bruges-De Panne.

“For 10 days, I couldn’t do anything after my operation,” she says. “Then we started an easy build. Finally, just recently, I was allowed to do everything again in training.

“We have a lot of sick people in the team so I had to race earlier than planned,” she said of the March races. “De Panne was a good race to restart, but the level is so high at the moment, you have to be really well trained.”

Now, Kuijpers should start Paris-Roubaix Women on Saturday.

“I really like cobblestones,” she said. “I did it last year but it was super choppy with the wet conditions. Let’s try a dry condition this year.

Despite her passion for the classics, Kuijpers knows that the second half of the season will be when she will be at her best, and she hopes to be part of the Tour de France Women team – “Everyone wants to race this. “

Kuijpers has a custom chain guard on his felt made by K3 Pro Cycling. (Photo: Ben Delaney)

Still, she said she appreciates understanding team management at Human Powered Health. She once raced for Liv Racing and its previous incarnation, CCC-Liv.

“The team is super supportive. With the heart problem, they really want to help me,” she said. “I’m not going to say that Americans see cycling differently from Europeans, but they see it a different point of view. I only rode for European teams. For example, we lived together in this house [in Oudenaarde, Belgium] for eight weeks. And when we live more together, we get to know each other better, and that also helps in the races.

“Right now, I just need time to get back to peak physical shape,” she said. “It’s so difficult to be patient, but the team completely understands.”

VeloNews will cover Paris-Roubaix Women this weekend.